Written by Erica Watkins
Graduation day is supposed to be a day of celebration and memories, not a day of debate and controversy. The argument of whether or not seniors should be able to decorate their graduation caps hurts all sides involved. With that said, it would be inappropriate to prohibit seniors from decorating their graduation caps because it sends a false message to the community, does not teach students how to thrive in the real world and limits our perception of success.
In the senior class meeting held regarding graduation caps, Principal Dr. Herrmann pointed out that blank caps would send a strong message to our community. This, however, would be ineffective. While it is understandable why the administration wants to find ways to reduce stress, the school should be making noticeable changes to student life instead of symbolic changes, which will only serve as crowd-pleasers. Community members have voiced disagreement with the tradition of decorating caps because they believe it reflects Gunn’s focus on academic success and pressure to go to top colleges. The administration should not be catering to views of the public. If we decide to ban decorations, it would affirm the community’s belief that academic stress is a main cause of Gunn’s problems because it shows that it is the sole problem we are worried about in a time of crisis.
As academics and personal experiences have taught us, disappointment is not a rarity in the real world. We will feel inferior, we will be let down and we may feel cheated at some point. In high school thus far, we have been sheltered. When seniors move on to the next chapter of life, they won’t have people to protect them from disappointment. After college, people will compete for employment, love interests and everything in between. People may be hurt seeing what others are doing with their lives after high school, but impending disappointment should be a learning opportunity instead of a roadblock.
The argument of whether or not students may decorate graduation caps brings up a bigger issue: is it the administration’s job to eliminate stress or teach students how to effectively deal with stress? As stress is a healthy, common part of life, it would do all of our students a greater service to teach us how to deal with it rather than eradicate it. Instead of eliminating caps altogether for fear that it will hurt some students, the administration should be encouraging a conversation about how to deal with rejection in a healthy way. It is important to be taught our limits and how to be okay with things not going our way. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these grad caps are an important symbol of us moving on from high school. We are all moving on to the real world, and that is an accomplishment that students should be able to show to their community, whatever it is they are doing after high school.
By arguing that the differences in paths portrayed on our caps is a negative reflection of our class implies that different forms of success are shameful. Students should be able to celebrate their hard work regardless of where it takes them. We should not be telling students not to brag about getting into amazing colleges. On the same note, students should be able to brag about going to community college or going on to do things that have nothing to do with academics.
For years, graduation caps have served as a creative outlet to show their students’ pride in various accomplishments. As Gunn has received pressure from the community to create different ideals of success, administration should be embracing a tradition that the majority of students look forward to, and use it as a canvas to show future graduates and community members that students at Gunn succeed in their individual, original styles.